“Donaldo, my friend… How to crush the demon of creativity? This is the problem I’m wrestling with now. I’m more than willing to give General Grant my sword. But I can’t stop writing! I don’t know how to exorcise the demon. I am in essence that demon. How to kill the inner child, that’s what it comes down to. How to kill the inner child. I want to live a normal life. But how can one live a normal life in Los Angeles?” Fausto Diego Villarreal, from a letter to Donald O’Donovan
In 2008, my best pal Fausto Diego Villarreal asked me to help him keep a pledge he’d made to himself to quit writing forever, get a regular job and live a normal life. We were both at the time impoverished and unpublished writers who had spent twenty years trying to batter down the doors of the monolithic New York publishing establishment. Fausto managed to convince me that we needed to stop pissing out a window as it were and salvage what was left of our lives, and at the bar of LA’s historic Wilshire Royale Hotel the two of us shook hands and made a solemn vow to do just that. My autobiographical novel Orgasmo chronicles my disastrous attempt to quit writing forever and pursue the American Dream. Donald O’Donovan
Ice cream melts, youth ends, beauty fades, love dies. A whole century, gone like a glass of water. And now I’m alone. This crumbling old hotel on Sonrisa Street is a Dante’s Inferno inhabited by the misbegotten, the unfit, the unsalvageable. The tenants are dipsomaniacs, somnambulists, criminal psychopaths, pathetic retirees and Mexican junkies. In the room next to mine lives a phony Gypsy lady who tells fortunes and turns tricks, and next door to her a pair of blond morphodites, retired circus freaks, both of them midgets. Down the hall in this chamber of horrors you’ll find a stuttering waiter who munches a dry herring wrapped in a Yiddish newspaper, Mr. Plaah or Mr. Plaargh, and he’s wanted for armed robbery.
I said I was alone, but I have a miserable little drowned rat of a dog here with me. I don’t know where she came from. She’s no more company than a cockroach, but at least she doesn’t eat much. We went for a walk this morning on Hollywood Boulevard and a man said to me, “I’ll give you a dollar for that dog.” I almost took it.
Donald O’Donovan wrote the first draft of his novel Night Train (Open Books, 2010) on 23 yellow legal pads while homeless in the streets of LA. His other novels include Tarantula Woman, The Sugarhouse and Highway. An optioned screenwriter and voice actor with film and audio book credits, Donald O’Donovan lives mostly in Los Angeles. He can be reached at: email@example.com
"Like" Dear Dirty America on FacebookFind a list of O'Donovan's books here and here. See O'Donovan's other pieces on DDA: The Novel As Graffiti, Cardboard Villages, Simon Rodia, Architect of Dreams, and I Live Under Your Wallpaper